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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Racial/ethnic heterogeneity in associations of blood pressure and incident cardiovascular disease by functional status in a prospective cohort: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

  • Author(s): Kaiser, Paulina
  • Peralta, Carmen A
  • Kronmal, Richard
  • Shlipak, Michael G
  • Psaty, Bruce M
  • Odden, Michelle C
  • et al.

OBJECTIVES:Research has demonstrated that the association between high blood pressure and outcomes is attenuated among older adults with functional limitations, compared with healthier elders. However, it is not known whether these patterns vary by racial/ethnic group. We evaluated race/ethnicity-specific patterns of effect modification in the association between blood pressure and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) by functional status. SETTING:We used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (2002-2004, with an average of 8.8 years of follow-up for incident CVD). We assessed effect modification of systolic blood pressure and cardiovascular outcomes by self-reported physical limitations and by age. PARTICIPANTS:The study included 6117 participants (aged 46 to 87; 40% white, 27% black, 22% Hispanic and 12% Chinese) who did not have CVD at the second study examination (when self-reported physical limitations were assessed). OUTCOME MEASURES:Incident CVD was defined as an incident myocardial infarction, coronary revascularisation, resuscitated cardiac arrest, angina, stroke (fatal or non-fatal) or death from CVD. RESULTS:We observed weaker associations between systolic blood pressure (SBP) and CVD among white adults with physical limitations (incident rate ratio (IRR) per 10 mm Hg higher SBP: 1.09 (95% CI 0.99 to 1.20)) than those without physical limitations (IRR 1.29 (1.19, 1.40); P value for interaction <0.01). We found a similar pattern among black adults. Poor precision among the estimates for Hispanic or Chinese participants limited the findings in these groups. The attenuated associations were consistent across both multiplicative and additive scales, though physical limitations showed clearer patterns than age on an additive scale. CONCLUSION:Attenuated associations between high blood pressure and incident CVD were observed for blacks and whites with poor function, though small sample sizes remain a limitation for identifying differences among Hispanic or Chinese participants. Identifying the characteristics that distinguish those in whom higher SBP is associated with less risk of morbidity or mortality may inform our understanding of the consequences of hypertension among older adults.

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